Woman in gag order case says half-siblings always had ‘resentful feelings’

Published: 4:13 AM, March 22, 2014

SINGAPORE — The woman sued by her stepmother for breaching a gag order against talking publicly about her family became emotional on the stand yesterday as she described how their relationship soured after her late father’s will was settled in 2011.

During re-examination by her lawyer on the third day of the High Court hearing, Ms Wendy Chan recounted how she did things with her mother, such as going for meals together and driving her around, especially after her father died.

She also argued that she believes her stepmother, Mdm Eleanor Tan, had commenced the suit “under pressure” from her half-siblings because they “always had these resentful feelings” for her.

When asked to explain, Ms Chan said one reason was that all her half-siblings held “regular corporate-type jobs” and brought in a certain amount of money while she was more of a free spirit. The “years of resentment” also eventually caused her to be “totally shut out” from Mdm Tan’s decision to sell the house, she added.

Ms Chan also said she felt “very hurt” and “emotional” when she found out that she was the only one among the children to have restrictions, such as the gag order, imposed on her when her stepmother gave each of them money from selling her late husband’s Lornie Road property.

Mdm Tan, 79, is suing Ms Chan, 49, for breaching an oral agreement not to publicly talk about her and their family, after the stepdaughter commented on West Coast Member of Parliament Foo Mee Har’s parliamentary question on public housing prices on a Channel NewsAsia forum in October 2012. Mdm Foo is Mdm Tan’s daughter-in-law.

The dispute stems from an agreement made the previous year when Ms Chan was given S$1 million and a further S$36,000 to purchase her own apartment and cover interim rental expenses. Under the agreement, Ms Chan could not say or write anything about Mdm Tan and her family in the newspapers or on the Internet and social media, as Mdm Tan wanted to live the rest of her life in peace and privacy.

But Ms Chan’s defence during this hearing is that there was never such an agreement. She pointed to a written agreement they had during a mediation session in September 2012, which revised her gag order such that she was only not allowed to say anything scandalous, untrue or defamatory about Mdm Tan and her family.

The court directed both parties to make written submissions by Apr 10.